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The Walk Less Travelled


I’ve started walking from Canada to Key West again after a tumultuous four year break. You probably haven’t heard about my journey before but I am a physician that realized climate change is the biggest risk for humanity and it was more important for me to devote my life to fighting this problem than caring for individual patients. So, I took a coveted volunteer role and decided to walk the streets of the US to share what I would find. Right now I am a little over half way through my journey-in Lumberton, North Carolina staying right off of interstate 95 and in the next few paragraphs I will share the second half of the Oreo cookie (the first half is available at sustainourabilities.org in my older blogs and the middle is the years between) and what I’ve learned in the first week. I'll also share every week during my journey so please follow along!  

I started out this week in Rocky Mount, North Carolina-about 40 miles out of Raleigh. I didn’t have time to train so I just took the first day slow-about 10 miles. Immediately, I realized I was back in the bible belt.  So many churches.-Are these people really that religious? And what does that mean? When I saw three local churches, literally five houses apart, I realized this isn’t a good thing. I believe in God and religion-but I also believe in science and community and I know that our country is being driven apart-we are being divided to be conquered so I hope that we can all come together in community-in one place and work together to solve the multitudinous problems that will exist in 2024 and beyond. Kind of like Star Trek-we need to function as one planet-we are in this together.

In thinking of one planet-I also noticed road kill.  I never saw a beaver before-and this week I saw three-dead on the road and recognizable by their useful tails. I also saw two deer, a turtle, lots of racoons, and a few little snakes. Yet, coming from the woods, I heard many living frogs, birds and rustles from other beautiful creatures that we need to live as part of our ecosystem but who are being killed in the sixth mass extinction.

It’s spring in North Carolina and there are beautiful flowering trees around. I also saw a field of what looked like mini palm trees-I had to spend some time on google to figure this one out and they are brussel sprouts-interestingly these seem to be the “hot new vege” being on lots of menus and it emphasizes to me how important local farms are and plant-based diets. There are also lot of cotton remnants which will go back to the earth. Part of the beauty of my walk is that I can share what I learn and not to be cliché but all of us will be healthier and live longer if we eat our greens.    

I’m sad to say how much people litter.  And it's again and again, down the country. Bottles from shots and beer cans are the most common. But there are also tons of cigarette boxes, and this week I saw diabetes pens, plastic from a tampon and surprisingly only one condom. And, a lot of pee-filled water bottles. Guys why don't you just make sure no one's around, open the door and pee? These are back roads after all. Animals are smart enough not to litter-but people do-like crazy- and I’m sure if I walked every street in the US, I would find the same thing-so please let’s try and save our garbage for cans and bottles for recycling.

We are also a nation of hoarders.  This goes with our other addictions: alcohol, cigarettes, food, drugs, stuff.  The solution is avoiding the ubiquitous dollar stores and not filling our homes with junk-the solution is walking, going outdoors, exercising, and not buying stuff.  Our economic model needs to move towards a circular economy where we share, lease, reuse, repair, refurbish and recycle what we have a long as possible.

I’m grateful that I am alive, have been able to start my journey again and experience the world. But I’ve got to share some of the middle of my oreo-which was not sweet. In addition to the years of Covid-January 6-the wars In Ukraine and the Israel and Gaza tragedy-I personally have lived through other tragedies. My sister, Marilee who was a beautiful a pioneer in women's rights and medicine, died a year ago this March. Evan before that, though, I experienced, every parent’s worst nightmare.  On December 6th 2021, I found my youngest son Graham who was brilliant, charming and handsome and lived with the challenges of type I diabetes and chronic pain dead in bed from fentanyl poisoning. To honor his life I have changed the name of my walk to the Graham- the Green Route Aiding Healthy Adaptation and Mitigation. One of the last texts he wrote to me was “I’m just trying to be in the woods away from my phone” and to me this emphasizes the plight of our youth.  So much stress, so many problems in the world, so much divisiveness and danger and so little community. The world has changed much too quickly and people cannot respond internally as quickly as machines, technology and pollution. We've got to fight fentanyl, and I grieve every day, but we've also got to try and stay strong and look at the bigger picture.

As a product of the Graham, I’ve created a healthy living spaces petition.  So, we can recreate our environment so it is softer, more beautiful, kinder and greener. If any of the above resonates with you and if you care about our future, please sign and share the healthy living spaces petition and follow the Graham through the Sustain Our Abilities you tube channel. I'll be live streaming along the route in interesting places (like I’m staying at a barn tomorrow night) and you can see scenes that you will likely never see again. You can also subscribe to the blog or social media at Sustain Our Abilities.     

Regardless, have a wonderful day and let’s Make America Beautiful!






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